"Plastic is natures non-renewable resource, and time is ours. We shouldn't waste either."
I am an accidental environmentalist. I didn't grow up with a hippie mother or a passion for the environment, I was just a person trying to find happiness in all the usual ways – money, power and status. But this triumvirate wasn't providing me with the contentment I expected. I was wasting my life.
At 26, I was a manager in a large engineering firm. On paper, my life was a success. I was the one my Chinese migrant parents didn't have to worry about, the daughter who left high school with excellent grades, had a well-paying corporate job and the latest Givenchy boots. It was a picture-perfect life.
That all changed in an instant. I remember sitting in that board meeting on Level 6, looking at my boss, my boss's boss and the big boss, and thinking "Is this it? Is this who I will become in five, 10, 15 years' time?" I realised then that if I kept on this path, all my hopes of living a life that was truly mine, one not bound by golden handcuffs, would be lost forever.
These thoughts haunted me and when they started to make me miserable my husband looked me in the eyes and said, "Your job is killing you." I quit the next day. Since then my life has been transformed. I've gone back to university to study medicine full-time, I've moved out of my in-laws' house into a 59-square-metre apartment and dedicated my life to something greater.
Working in corporate Australia didn't reflect who I was, but you certainly don't have to quit work to live a more eco-friendly life. The zero-waste movement is centred on reducing what you send to landfill and the amount of plastic in your life. But, more importantly, living a truly zero-waste life means also not wasting it away. Plastic is Mother Nature's non-renewable resource, and time is ours. We shouldn't waste either.
Here are six simple examples of the "eco-luxe life" – ways in which we can all be zero-waste activists without being deprived of simple pleasures.
Replace your disposable items – plastic bottles, paper napkins, plastic grocery bags, disposable coffee cups etc – with reusable options. Make a kit that includes a reusable water bottle and coffee cup, cotton bag, stainless steel drinking straw and a spork and take it everywhere.
Food sits in our landfills and emits toxic greenhouse emissions, so set up a composting system that works for you. This might be as simple as contributing to a compost bin in a community garden. Sharewaste.com is a website that shows where you can find compost bins in your area.
Scour the outer aisles of supermarkets, where the package-free food is found, or at bulk stores. Not only is this better for the planet, it's also a healthier option.
Used is Good
Make second-hand your first choice. Look in local thrift stores, eBay and Gumtree, and check with neighbours, friends and family.
Be Mindful of Your Time
Eliminate unnecessary engagements from your calendar. While money is a renewable resource we should not waste, time can never be regained.
By seeing how amazing Mother Nature is, we appreciate that every step, no matter how small, is important in helping our planet.
In living a zero-waste life you actually gain – more time, more money, more life. Isn't that what we all want in the end: a life of happiness, a life of luxury, a life that isn't wasted?
If you are interested in knowing more about how to lead a zero waste life, come along to the Zero Waste Victoria’s inaugural ‘Zero Waste Festival’ held on the 5th August from 11 – 3pm at Brunswick Town Hall. You will be able to learn practical solutions to fight the war on waste that can be taken into it every day lives. Covering all aspects from how to shop with less packaging, different composting methods, cooking with scraps, learn about cloth nappies, toy libraries, tool libraries, Melbourne’s first sharing shed, How to start up a Repair Cafe, and more.
Whether you are starting your zero waste journey, are participating in 'Plastic Free July', or if you’re ready to take zero waste to the next level, this is a festival that is not to be missed. It will be packed with talks, stalls and information stands and you can participate in Zero Waste Victoria’s first clothes swap. Let the fun without rubbish begin!
To find out more about Zero Waste Victoria Festival, please click here.
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